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ECCLESIASTES IN THE 
METRE OF OMAR 



ECCLESIASTES 

IN THE METRE OF OMAR 

WITH AN INTRODUCTORY ESSAY 

ON ECCLESIASTES AND 

THE RUBAIYAT 

BY 

WILLIAM BYRON FORBUSH 




BOSTON AND NEW YORK 
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 

CAMBRIDGE 

■•/( '■:■■. : ■■ ■ •:: \ i 



COPYRIGHT 1906 BY WILLIAM BYRON FORBUSH 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

Published October iqob 



DEDICATION 

You too have lov'd Him. Fearless, unforlorn, 
You pluck'd his blossom and stripp'd off his 
thorn ; 
The courage of his lone, unshackl'd Heart 
You know, and dare his noble, piteous Scorn. 

We have outliv'd the Rosebud, not the Rose, 
The Wine of May, but not the Garden Close. 
We have known all the pain that Omar 
knew 
And enter'd all the Heaven that Omar knows. 

Perchance I Ve taught you how Life's rue to 

quaff 
With patient lip, to greet with cheery laugh 

The barb that pierces to the inmost soul — - 
Yet I, my Saki, I have taught but half; 



For when old Edens fade our sadden'd view 
And Life is desert, then I start with You 

Singing beside, along the footpath way — 
Two Vagrants bound for Paradises new. 

Thus will we pass along the sunlit heather, 
Bend to Life's tempests and endure all 

weather. — 
And when we reach the Inn that stops 

the Way, 
O kindly Host, may we go in together ! 



CONTENTS 

AN ESSAY ON ECCLESIASTES AND THE 

RUBAIYAT i 

ECCLESIASTES IN THE METRE OF OMAR 19 

THE PROLOGUE 23 
BOOK I : THE EXPERIMENTS OF KOHELETH 

THE KING 31 
BOOK II : THE THOUGHTS OF KOHELETH, 

THE ONE WHO SPEAKS FOR THE MANY 49 

THE EPILOGUE 89 



ECCLESIASTES AND 
THE RUBAIYAT 



ECCLESIASTES AND THE 

rubAiyAt * 

THE book of Ecclesiastes is not popular. 
It has furnished few texts for the clergy. 
As for the laity, they do not read it, and they 
are rather suspicious of it, It is not alive with 
biographical movement. It does not glow with 
evangelical warmth. Its heartiest following, as 
Professor Genung says, has ever been " from 
the back seats and the galleries. " Its chief at- 
traction seems to be for " the unreconstructed." 
And yet it is the most modern book in the 
Bible. For certain inevitable moods it is a dis- 
tinct tonic, and it has a message for a few souls 
found in no other Scripture. 

Written, as we suppose, in the Persian, or 
possibly as late as the Greek, period of Pales- 
tine's provincial history, the book is absolutely 
bare of all reference to the priests, the prophets, 

* To the editors of The Biblical World, in which the 
substance of this essay appeared, the author is indebted for 
permission to reprint it. 

[3] 



or the heroes of the Hebrews; it has even an 
apparent Stoic, Epicurean, and Persian tinge ; 
yet it is thoroughly Hebraic in soul. Its allu- 
sions suggest an Alexandrine source — cultured, 
cosmopolitan, sophisticated ; but it has the ori- 
ental parallelism and repetitiousness, and its 
theology and ethics are almost Sadducean. The 
gap between Ecclesiastes and the earlier Old 
Testament books is one of spirit as well as of 
time. It lacks the pharisaic bitterness of Esther 
and the tenderness of Ruth, the patriotic stern- 
ness of Malachi and the penitence of the post- 
exilic psalms. It is not the voice of the ancient 
Jew, pastoral, provincial, devoted to the temple 
and the law, but of the Jew of to-day, the man 
of business, who has travelled, struggled, suf- 
fered, and become disillusioned and careless of 
orthodoxy. Still, he is the Jew, and the book 
could have been written by no one but a Jew. 
Renan regarded it as the only really Jewish 
book in the canon. Its question is the Hebraic 
one : What profit ? Its purview is Hebraic : 
only the things that are "under the sun." Its 
search is introspective, and it is the only sub- 
jective book in the Bible except Job. 

When we come to compare it with other lit- 
[4] 



eratures, it is not difficult to find its analogies. , 
Clearly, it falls into the class with Byron, Heine, 
Pascal, and Omar Khayyam. But among these 
there are both near and distant kinsmen. Pas- 
cal and Byron are misanthropes because of per- 
sonal grievances. Streane says: "Byron bewails 
himself.' , But Koheleth is concerned with the 
world-sorrow. Heine, a fellow Jew, saw as dis- 
tinctly as the writer of Ecclesiastes the world's 
vanity, but he chose to accept it in a spirit more 
elvish and romantic and less sincere. The Per- 
sian Omar, by the alembic of Edward FitzGer- 
ald, offers the closest analogies to this Hebrew 
poet-philosopher. The similitude was first 
noted by Plumptre only two years after those 
quatrains had been translated into English, and 
while yet the name of the translator was un- 
known. The Hebrew preceded the Persian by 
more than a thousand years — a little more than 
the time by which Omar preceded FitzGerald. 
The author of Ecclesiastes was as near in time 
to the Roman conquest as the author of the 
Rubaiyat was to the Anglo-Saxon, but the 
only world-movements that interested either 
were upon the arena of the personal soul. The 
Hebrew must have shocked the Pharisees of 
[5] 



Judsea, as the Persian Sufi, not a Mohammedan, 
did the Moslems of Khorassan. In Omar we 
read the heart of the tired-out oriental sensual- 
ism ; in Koheleth, the weariness of the played- 
out tragedy of Hebrew nationalism. 

The study which the two poets make has the 
same subject. It is life, " the things that are 
done under the sun." The approach is really 
in the modern scientific temper. The view is 
not that of the idealist, always smiling, vague, 
voluble ; but that of those who will not blink 
nor be blind, who care nothing for traditions 
or for authority; "too wise," as John Hay has 
said, " to be wholly poets, and yet too surely 
poets to be implacably wise." Omar has been 
stirred to speak by his scorn of philosophical 
futilities ; but Koheleth is moved rather by 
social abuses. 

Each writes largely in the form of proverbial 
sayings, disconnected and discursive. This is 
partly because each is intent on registering all 
his moods. Neither is at all times to be taken 
too seriously, any more than are some people 
who never sit down to write a letter unless they 
happen to feel homesick. The consistency of 
either Omar or Koheleth is not in orderliness 
[6] 



of argument, but in the consensus of a life ex- 
perience. Each veers at times from the haugh- 
tiness of a Villiers, who " lives, out of polite- 
ness," to the self-consciousness of a Byron, who 
" bore 

"Through Europe to the ^Etolian shore 
The pageant of his bleeding heart." 

Yet a vigor of philosophy greater than that of 
a Villiers or a Byron emerges from these soul 
journals. 

Each assumes a representative capacity in his 
discussion of the universe. Omar was not a 
mere writer of wine songs. The fact that he 
has been called a freethinker, a pantheist, an 
orthodox Moslem, a Sufi, a bon vivant, a man 
of learning, a politician, a gentle rhapsodist, 
shows how many-sided was the nature and the 
thought of him whom Dr. Bjerregaard calls "a 
Socratic accoucheur." The Hebrew title of Ec- 
clesiastes is " Koheleth," a word with a femi- 
nine ending from a verb meaning " to gather 
in assemblies. " It is evident that this title is 
intended to indicate that the author is a spokes- 
man to or for a multitude. Luther translated 
Koheleth "the Preacher;" Plumptre, "the 
Teacher ; " Genung, " the Counselor." Per- 
[7] 



haps it is even more literal and simple to 
say, " the one who speaks for the assembly," 
that is, the representative of the thoughts of 
many. 

Each of these poets dwells upon the unend- 
ing and apparently purposeless circuit of life 
from birth to the grave, and of the tiresome 
repetitions of human experience from age to 
age. Omar sings : — 

" Into this Universe and Why not knowing 
Nor Whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing : 

And out of it, as Wind along the Waste, 
I know not Whither, willy-nilly blowing." 

And again : — 

" A moment's halt — a momentary Taste 
Of being from the Well amid the Waste — 

And lo! the phantom Caravan has reached 
The nothing it set out from.'' 

And again of the individual life : — 

" 'T is but a Tent where takes his one Night's rest 
A Sultan to the Realms of Death addrest, 

The Sultan rises and the dark Ferrash 
Strikes, and prepares it for another Guest." 

This is the very thought with which Eccle- 
siastes begins. 

" Generation goeth, and generation cometh, 

[8] 



while forever the earth abideth. The sun riseth 
also, and the sun goeth down, and cometh 
panting back to his place where he riseth. 
Going to the south, and circling to the north, 
— circling, circling, goeth the wind, and upon 
his circuits returneth the wind. . . . All things 
are labor-weary ; no man can describe it. Eye 
is not satisfied with seeing, nor ear filled with 
hearing. What hath been is what will be . . . 
and there is nothing new under the sun." (Ge- 
nung's translation.) 

The conclusion of the vanity of all things, 
which Ecclesiastes reaches, is that of the Ru- 
baiyat : — 

" And this was all the Harvest that I reaped, 
I came like Water and like Wind I go." 

Omar and Koheleth agree that 

"All the Saints and Sages who discuss' d 
Of the two Worlds so wisely — they are thrust 
Like foolish prophets forth," 

and " their mouths are stopt with Dust." Both 
would cc take the Cash and let the Credit go." 
But Ecclesiastes is a much more austere book 
than the Rubaiyat. While Koheleth agrees 
with Omar that "a man hath no better thing 
under the sun than to eat, and to drink, and to 
[9] 



be merry," yet he does not, like Omar, exalt 
" wine, the sovereign alchemist." Says Omar : 

" Drink, for you know not whence you came nor why : 
Drink, for you know not why you go nor where.*' 

" I wonder often what the vintners buy 
One half so precious as the stuff they sell." 

Neither does the writer of Ecclesiastes share 
Omar's desire for a loved one beside him 
" singing in the Wilderness," to remake a par- 
adise. More bitter than death is " Woman, 
that snare whose heart is a net, whose arms. are 
fetters." Ecclesiastes is strictly a bachelor's 
book. You may remember that St. Jerome 
said that it was for middle-aged people, and 
Schopenhauer that no one can fully appreciate 
Ecclesiastes until he is seventy. Its sentiment 
is thus expressed in the tenth chapter: — 

XXXVI 

" A charmer caught a serpent lithe and young, 
Who, while he charm' d her, bit him with her tongue. 

What use were his enchantments to her wit, 
Or from the Serpent was 't Enchantment sprung ? " 

Eccl. x. 8 and 1 1 . 

Omar's scheme of life is, " Let us drink wine, 
and loaf in rose gardens with women, and 
be lazy." But Koheleth's pleasures were, like 

[10] 



those of the typical Jew, undertaken seriously ; 
they were psychological experiments. " Like 
Goethe," says Plumptre, " he analyzed his vo- 
luptuousness and studied his own faculties of 
enjoyment." Indeed, his goal was not so much 
pleasure as the faculty of enjoyment, and when 
he has proved that all is vanity, the paradox 
is that his wisdom-hunger and its utterance, 
which he scorns as also vain, have plainly been 
their own ample reward. This is thoroughly 
Hebraic, as it is distinctly not Persian. 

But why does Ecclesiastes appeal to any one? 
It is precisely because, like the Rubaiyat, it 
speaks to men in their questionings. Neither 
book has any message to the piously omniscient. 
The deeper one goes into life, the harder he 
finds it to be patient with ready-made faith. 
John Morley has spoken of the detestableness 
of " the complacent religiosity of the prosper- 
ous." Thoreau once remarked, " Our sadness 
is not sad, but our cheap joys." It is of infinite 
comfort to youth to know that even in the 
Bible there is a book written by a man who 
was freely permitted to think. 

In the midst of the inexorable, what we want 
is not explanations, but tenderness. It is mag- 

[»] 



nificent to think that Koheleth had faced all 
the facts of life without blinking, and found no 
solution, and yet was not dismayed by them. 
For it is not true, as Holdheim urges, that "the 
book begins with nothingness and ends with 
the fear of God." The Hebrew thinker, like 
Omar's philosopher, 

ft Evermore 
Came out by the same door wherein he went." 

But he had learned, with Tennyson's Ancient 
Sage, to 

if Cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt, 
And cling to Faith beyond the forms of Faith." 

The reason why the Rubaiyat has become 
a fad and almost a religion, and the reason 
why Ecclesiastes has persisted in the canon, in 
which it is the only contribution of a skeptic, is 
because these books " face the Unseen with a 
cheer." They help us on rainy nights and amid 
November recollections to make a cheery mas- 
tery of fate. 

Ecclesiastes consoles us because it throws us 
back upon the intrinsic interest of the life we 
are just now living. Stevenson once said, " To 
believe in immortality is one thing, but it is 
first needful to believe in life." Omar urges, 

[12] 



" To-morrow's tangle to the winds resign," and 
cries, " O my heart ! thou wilt never penetrate 
the mystery of the heavens. . . . Resign thy- 
self to make what little paradise thou canst 
below/' So the only heaven Koheleth knows 
is fulness of life. " He hath put eternity [" a 
pulsation of the timeless " — Genung] into 
their heart; yet not so that man findeth out 
the work that God hath wrought. . . . Where- 
fore I saw nothing better than that man should 
rejoice in his own works ; for that is his por- 
tion." " Koheleth," says Genung, " instead of 
waiting for heaven, or getting it built on some 
crude sensual plan, is making heaven every 
day, secreting it, as it were." 

He who has heaven in his heart does not 
worry about heaven in his future. 

When we come to the thought of God, Eccle- 
siastes stands in direct contrast to the Rubai- 
yat. This contrast is heightened by the sar- 
donic twist of FitzGerald's rendering. To 
Omar, God is "a good Fellow and 'twill all 
be well." This reminds one of Heine's blas- 
phemy, "God will forgive. It is his trade." 
If his human pottery is askew, says Omar, it 
must be because cc the hand of the Potter " 

[ 13] 



shook in making him. " The memory of such 
insolence " man can wash away only by many 
cups of wine. Yet, like Koheleth, Omar credits 
God with supreme intelligence : — 

"He that toss'd you down into the Field, 
He knows about it all — He knows — HE knows." 

And in an unfamiliar verse, which Powell trans- 
lates, we read : — 

" Open the Door: the Key is Thine alone, 
Show me the Path, only to Thee 'tis known ! 

The idle hands they reach I will not take. 
Thine everlasting Arm shall bear me on." 

But to Koheleth this supreme intelligence is 
much more exalted. cc God is in heaven, and 
thou upon earth." He is not known as the 
Father, even of the nation, as in the prophets. 
He is the far-ruling One, as in Homer; he 
is Jove more than Jehovah. The doctrine of 
Ecclesiastes is the magnificent one of the tran- 
quillity of God. Heine and Omar would scoff 
at his method of governing the universe, and 
bid him " man's forgiveness take " for his injus- 
tice. Not so Koheleth. God is too high for 
that. The judgment which he anticipates with 
eagerness will be as just as it will be all-regard- 
[ 14 ] 



ing. With a reverence as sublime as that of 
Job, he is silent in the presence of that Eter- 
nal Tranquillity which none can change and 
none can interpret. " God is in heaven, and 
thou upon earth ; therefore let thy words be 
few." 

But it is in the way that both approach the 
great stillness, Death, that each finds the cul- 
mination of his song. Omar cries, in a stanza 
little known, " The Hereafter will fill all hours, 
and the world is but for a moment. Sell not 
the Kingdom of Eternity for the sake of a 
moment." And Koheleth answers, " Remem- 
ber also thy Creator ... ere the dust return to 
earth as it was, and the spirit return unto God 
who gave it." 

Omar does not shrink from the draught of 
that " Angel of the darker Drink," but rather 
counts it a shame 

" If the Soul can naked on the Air of Heaven ride, 
In this clay carcase crippled to abide." 

It is beneath the night and the moon in his 
loved garden of roses and vines that he would 
be laid, where his old comrades pass and repass. 
Here he expects no resurrection, except as his 
[*5] 



dust shall enrich the vintage. Still, in a little- 
known stanza, he offers this pathetic prayer : — 

" Oh, God, I am weary of my own business ! 
Of my anguish and my empty-handedness ! 

Even as Thou bringest existence out of non-existence, so take 
Me from my own non-existence to the glory of Thine exist- 
ence." 

Koheleth has a chaster and more serious view 
of death. In a garden he, too, faces it, but not 
in the calm moonlight. Amid the wild rains 
of spring that " solemn immortal birth on the 
frontiers, to eyes impenetrable," comes on. 
With the picture of the tempest of death, he 
interweaves in that sublime twelfth chapter the 
most delicate and touching reference to the 
decay one by one of the parts of the body. 
His close, like Omar's, is the blind, trustful 
prayer, "Into Thy hands I commit my spirit." 
And in what Miss Edith M. Thomas calls 
" the old, tear-gathering, knell-paced utter- 
ances " of the twelfth chapter, " the Hebrew 
wisdom couplet rises to a majestic tide of world 
poetry." It is, of course, untranslatable in any 
medium, but in my closing verses I have pre- 
served and interpreted some of the simili- 
tudes. 

[16] 



While the book of Ecclesiastes may reveal to 
the critic a more or less clear series of studies or 
surveys of life, it has seemed best in the poem 
to make only the divisions which impress the 
casual reader, namely, the Prologue (chapter i, 
2-1 1); the First Book, "The Experiments 
of Koheleth the King" (chapter i, 12 to the 
end of chapter ii) ; the Second Book, " The 
Thoughts of Koheleth, the One who Speaks for 
the Many '' (chapter iii to chapter xi, 8) ; the 
Epilogue (the remainder of the book). 

My Prologue, First Book, and Epilogue fol- 
low closely the order of the original; but in 
the Second Book, which includes the portions 
of the original which are without apparent or- 
derly arrangement, I have made selections only 
and have created an order of my own. 

As the translation shows, the First Book, in 
which Koheleth assumes the disguise of Solo- 
mon, is less serious and conclusive than the 
Second, in which he speaks deliberately and at 
times passionately from his own experience. In 
this latter Book he seems to rest finally upon 
Life as its own reward and blessedness. I re- 
gard the Epilogue, not as a summary of the pre- 
vious arguments, but rather as a lyric outburst, 

[17] 



in which the poet, still true to his calm philoso- 
phy of satisfaction in intrinsic Life, is, in view 
of death, carried beyond himself, not to the 
disowning of his own conclusions, but to daring 
to press them to the portals of the grave, and 
even beyond. The " Conclusion," whether or 
not by another hand, is the reaction in prose to 
the previous question of present duty. 



[18] 



ECCLESIASTES IN THE 
METRE OF OMAR 



THE THEME 

VANITY OF VANITIES 



Saith Koheleth : 

Vanity of Vanities, — all is Vanity. 

THE INQUIRY 

What Profit hath Man in all his Labours, 
Which he laboureth under the sun ? 



[21] 



THE PROLOGUE 



a 



ECCLESIASTES I : 4 



Old Time, Man's Warder, crouching at his 
door, 

Gibes at the Generations as they pour 

Like footless Cloudheaps driven by shep- 
herd Winds 

Through Life's ironbound ravine forevermore. 



[25] 



II 



i* 5» 7 



The pilgrim Sun bends bravely to his Quest, 
But, breathless, finds at night the selfsame 
West. 
The River, cradled in the mountains, roars 
Seaward, but sleeps at length upon the crest. 



[26] 



Ill 



1:6 



The Sea that smites the stars with spendthrift 
blows 

Flings back upon itself in white repose ; 

The wearied Wind that swoops on cormo- 
rant wings 

Round and around in tiresome circles goes. 



[^7] 



IV 



i : 8-10 



Through that same treadmill Circle all things 

pour. 
Charm'd by the droning bagpipes heard of yore, 
The well-worn, whirling figures of the Show 
Play to tired eyes their melodrama hoar. 



[28] 



V 



Like snowflakes falling in the unmarking sea, 
Like flowers that bloom to fade where no 

men be, 
Like sands that gulph an unremember'd 

shrine, 
So fall, so fade, so fail our Works — and We. 



[29] 



BOOK I 

THE EXPERIMENTS 
OF KOHELETH THE KING 



VI 



THE QUEST OF PLEASURE 
I : 12-18 
CF. VII : 6 



I, King Koheleth, sent my eager Mind 

To make the Eternal Quest. What doth she 

find? 
Hearken ! " It is the mad Fool's crackling 

laugh, 
The empty rattle of the aimless Wind." 



[33] 



VII 



THE QUEST OF PLEASURE 
II : I, 2, 4 
CF. VII : 4 



Haste ! With the dancing torches' welcome 

light 
The House of Mirth is all aglow to-night. 
But warmer is the welcome from within, 
And there are smiling eyes that shine more 

bright. 



[34] 



VIII 



THE QUEST OF PLEASURE 
II: 8 



Hear thou the tinkle of soft-tripping feet 
That by the vineyard fountain wait to greet ; 

Those feet are swifter than the water's flow, 
That laughter than the water's plash more 
sweet. 



[35] 



IX 



THE QUEST OF PLEASURE 
II : 3-7 



The rounded wine-cups in the firelight shine, 
Not rounder than the breasts of those who 
twine 
From cup to shoulder fragrant roses red 
And sip from redder lips the ruddy wine. 



[36] 



X 



THE QUEST OF PLEASURE 
II : 9, 10 



Here sit I, King above the gay-deck'd throng, 
A lion-Lord 'midst bearded liegemen strong, 

A Lover wreath'd with roses and soft arms, 
A Bard that leads his people in their song. 



[37] 



XI 



THE QUEST OF PLEASURE 
II : II 



Gallant and Sage, Wisdom with Joy I find. 
"'T is mine. 'Tis here ! " I shouted as I dined. 
I woke. I dreamt I drank the royal 
Grape. — ■ 
I quaffed the unfermented, tasteless Wind. 



[38] 



XII 



THE QUEST OF PLEASURE 
II : II 



Outside the torches flicker'd in the rain, 
The breeze sigh'd out its immemorial pain, 

The bubbles burst beside the fountain's brink, 
The leaves were falling. And the World was 
vain. 



[39] 



XIII 



THE QUEST OF WISDOM 
II : 12, 13, 16 
CF. IX : 5 



I visited the Sage of reverend fame 

And thoughtful left more burden'd than I came. 

I went- — and ere I left his humble door 
The busy World had quite forgot his name. 



[40] 



XIV 



THE QUEST OF WISDOM 

II : 14-16 

CF. VIII : i o j IX : 2 



So to the Fool's gay tent I next repair'd 
Which with his wench and witless brood he 

shar'd 
In low and senseless sports : yet happier he 
Whom too the World knew not — he never 

car'd. 



[41] 



XV 



THE QUEST OF LABOUR 
II : 17, 18, 21 



So with men's Labours as their Fame. With skill 
The clay is moulded to the potter's will. 

He dies. His wares are set upon the shelf 
And to his children all his works are nil. 



[42] 



XVI 



THE QUEST OF LABOUR 
II : 18-20 
CF. v : 13-17 



So thought I of myself. I shape the State 
As doth the artisan his vase or plate. 

My princes squabble o'er my scarce clos'd 
tomb 
And crowns and platters have an equal fate. 



[43] 



XVII 



THE QUEST OF LABOUR 

II : 21 

CF. IV : 1 3 



The sluggard heir enjoys fair fortunes* glow 
And Princes all earth's unearn'd treasures know, 
But favour's breasts feel cold to palsied 

arms, 
Crowns come too late to brows o'er-thatch'd 

with snow.* 



* My impression is that I have borrowed this line, but I can- 
not recall its source. 



[44] 



XVIII 



THE FAILURE AND THE SOLACE 
II : 17 AND 22, 23 



So — once again — the Schools I cast from 

mind 
And no whit better than the fools I find. 
The King's gay ballad and his bondslave's 

groan 
Die in like echoes on the heedless Wind. 



[45] 



XIX 



THE FAILURE AND THE SOLACE 
II : 24 
CF. V : 18 



And yet — tho* Life have many a trap and 
slip,— 

Here laughs my board with Food and Fellow- 
ship, 
Beckon the Bedawin camp-fires on the Road, 

And at its end a sweet and rosy lip. 



[ 46 ] 



XX 



THE FAILURE AND THE SOLACE 
II : 25, 26 
CF. V : 19 



Hail, then ! ye Joys that gladden tho' ye fly. 
Praise be to Him who sends them flitting by. 

Maybe they are not worth my eager Quest, — 
Yet who enjoys them any more than I ! 



[47] 



XXI 



THE FAILURE AND THE SOLACE 
I : 12 



Thus spake I, and remember'd him, the Wise, 

Whose hoary beard streams down the centuries 

And wraps him in his royal tomb, where he 

Still gauntly dreams, face toward the silent skies. 



[ 4 8] 



BOOK II 

THE THOUGHTS OF KOHELETH, 

THE ONE WHO SPEAKS 

FOR THE MANY 



XXII 



OF TIME 
III : 1-8 



I mus'd of Time and times. As years befall, 
The shadow of the transient broods o'er all : 
Minstrels and Monarchs, Codes and Creeds 

and Gods, 
Mattock and Sceptre, the Birth-robe and the 

Pall. 



[5i] 



XXIII 



OF TIME 

HI : 9, 10, 12-15 

CF VI : 7 



To eat, to drink — this seems the better part; 
To love the shop, the ship, the mall, the mart. 

But oh ! how bitter in this busy world 
To walk with full hands and an empty heart. 



[52] 



XXIV 



OF ETERNITY 
III : II-14 



In my own breast beats on Eternity. 

No mirage towers of Dreamlands yet to be, 

But — - once I bent to taste an upland spring * 
And, bending, heard it whisper of its Sea. 



* " The splendour of the end must already lie prophetic in the 
strength of the hidden springs. ' ' 

John Franklin Genung, Words o/Koheletb, p. 51. 



[S3] 



XXV 



OF ETERNITY 
III : 22 



I shape it not from perishable clay, 
Nor muse on clouds and hope to make them 
stay, 
But as the patient shell secretes the pearl 
So I secrete my Heaven from day to day. 



[54] 



XXVI 



OF ETERNITY 
VIII : 8 



Give me no Manna for a starveling Life 
Nor Sun Delaying for a half lost strife. 

Grant me but light to see my foeman's face 
Then shrill above my pain the battle fife. 



[55] 



XXVII 



OF A CROOKED WORLD 
IX: 3 



Life is a plain whereon men fight for bread. 
The grain no more is golden — it is red. 
Madmen are they, who, knowing not they're 
mad, 
March, jostling close the still heaps of the Dead. 



[56] 



XXVIII 



OF A CROOKED WORLD 
X : 19 



Wine is pour'd out to souls for God who call, 
Feasts are spread forth for lives that faint and 
fall, 
Music is offer'd when the heart is dead — 
And Money is the answer to it all ! 



[57] 



XXIX 



OF A CROOKED WORLD 
V : II, 12 



One gathereth silver in a shining heap. 
How swift his harpy-friends upon him leap. 

The wealthy Sluggard hath his splendid Day, 
The Workman better, he hath Night — and 
Sleep. 



[58] 



XXX 



OF A CROOKED WORLD 
V : 13-17 



Riches are nimble. Ay, and take their flight. 
Heavy thy hand ? Thy son's grasp shall be 
light. 
Naked thou earnest from thy mother's womb, 
Naked thou goest to Earth's Womb of Night. 



[59] 



XXXI 



OF A CROOKED WORLD 
IV : 1-3 



Ever the poor and tender are opprest, 
Tyrants have power and wrong is not redrest, 
But they who lie in the cool Grave — ah, 

none 
Can snatch their treasures. Yea, their lot is 

best. 



[60] 



XXXII 



OF A CROOKED WORLD 
IX : 2 AND 6 



The Lordling Crowd that flaunted in the sun, 
The Poor who skulking to their toil have gone, 
Their love, their hate, their envy all have 
chill'd, 
And all alike have found Oblivion. 



[61] 



XXXIII 



OF A CROOKED WORLD 
VIII : 8 
CF. XI : 8 



My Spirit gladdens in the sunshine bright, 
My busy Spirit that finds its work so light, 
But flits away when flits my fleeting breath, 
Ah ! dearly lov'd and wholly fickle Sprite ! 



[62] 



XXXIV 



OF WOMAN 
IV : 7-12 



Traveller alone, I watch thy stalwart form, 
But where art thou when falls the icy storm ? 

But Two can guard each other's vagrant feet 
And 'midst wild Winter lie together warm. 



[63] 



XXXV 



OF WOMAN 
VII : 26-28 



Yet, of all Vanity to which man 's prone, 
Is any vainer thing than Woman known ? 

Amongst a thousand Men a single Friend, 
Amongst all women I have found not one. 



[64] 



XXXVI 



OF WOMAN 
X : 8 AND II 



A charmer caught a serpent lithe and young, 
Who, while he charm'd her, bit him with her 

tongue. 
What use were his enchantments to her wit, 
Or from the Serpent was 't Enchantment 

sprung ? 



[65] 



XXXVII 



OF WOMAN 
VI : 9 



Better the pebbly footpath than the mire, 
Better one's own cloak than a neighbor's fire, 

Better the vision of clear-sighted eyes 
Than all the wander-lure of wild Desire. 



[66] 



XXXVIII 



OF THE INTRINSIC MAN 
IV : 14-16 



Forth from a Prison came I up to reign 
The folk who throng, like bees, upon the plain. 
I '11 spend my Furlough like a King forsooth, 
Until remanded to my Prison again. 



[67] 



XXXIX 



OF THE INTRINSIC MAN 
VI : 3, 4 



For not with lawless fists I '11 beat the sky, 
Nor seem like an untimely birth to die ; 

I will as royal rule my Garden Plot 
As He who tills the Star Plot spread on high, 



[68] 



XL 



OF THE INTRINSIC MAN 
V: 8 



Perchance in some dim Cloister Vale of Sleep 
These throbbing griefs we '11 learn to bury deep, 

And, looking up into the Gardener's Face, 
Our ancient Joys find He 's thought sweet to 
keep. 



[69] 



XLI 



OF THE INTRINSIC MAN 
VIII : 12, 13 



Perhaps, if we but scorn the beastly Crew 
That grow and fatten on the ill they do, 
We '11 wake to find our Sleep at length is 
past, 
And, waking, learn that all our Dreams are true. 



[70] 



XLII 



OF GOD 
IX : 17 



Oft have I dream'd upon my lonely throne, 
Whose noisy cares ne'er leave my heart alone, 
Of the dear Kingdom of encloister'd Thought, 
And I have wept to claim it as my own. 



[71] 



XLIII 



OF GOD 
VIII : 2, 3 
CF. V : I 



Silent I pace the Shrine and hear within 
The vows of Fools, the Levites' empty din. 

Above, the silent Stars reproachful pass, 
And stainless kneel the voiceless Seraphin. 



[72] 



XLIV 



OF GOD 
V : I 



If Moses-like before the Face divine 
On Sinai tops my knees do not incline, 

One flicker from that generous Light may 
fall 
To cause my patient, puzzled face to shine : 



[73] 



XLV 



OF GOD 

CF. DEUT. XXXIV : 5-7 



That Light which with its plaintive sunset grace 
Through triple-tinted veil of Holy Place 
Jehovah gave on Nebo's slope to light 
The grimness of the Ten Commandment face. 



[74] 



XLVI 



OF GOD 
III : 22 



"Bold," let men say, "he was, and aye hath 

striven 
Royal to act with all that he was given, 

He filled with splendour his brief Day of Life, 
And dying made no brokerage with Heaven." 



[75] 



XLVII 



OF GOD 
III : 22 
CF. II : 9, 12, 13. 



4 

Would I exchange this Wisdom-Hunger, 

though, 
For all the easy calm of Those-who-know ? 

Or barter the wild surges of my soul 
For ordered throbbings of a heart in tow ? 



[76] 



XLVIII 



OF GOD 
V : i, 2 



Yet, Kings and Subjects do like shadows flit 
Before the awful Throne where He doth sit. 
From Earth's flat sieve we fall like desert 
sand. 
Who knows if He above regardeth it ? 



[77] 



XLIX 



OF GOD 
VIII : 17 
V : 1-7 



We kneel and fall before His shadow'd Sill.* 
The very hinges with our yearnings thrill. 
Our soundest knowledge is, " We know Him 

not/'t 
Our safest eloquence is, " Peace ! be still." 



* "The insuperable Threshold." —James Shirley. 

-f- «'< Our soundest knowledge is to know that we know Him 
not as indeed He is, neither can know Him, and our safest elo- 
quence concerning Him is our silence." 

Richard Hooker, Ecclesiastical Polity, I, 2, § 3. 

[78] 



OF GOD 
IX ^ I 



He moves along His lone, eternal Path. 
Little behooves our pleasure or our wrath. 

One makes or mars — at Even hath he found 
The Puppets and the Bagpipes all he hath. 



[79] 



LI 



OF FULNESS OF LIFE 
V : 1 8, 19 



Cease, then, to wreak a profit from thy task. 
Believe 't is good and in its sunlight bask. 
Enjoy the food and drink it makes thee 

crave ; 
Thy work thy Heaven; what needst thou 

further ask ? 



[8°] 



LII 



OF FULNESS OF LIFE 
XI : 4, 6 



Not by the shifting winds sow thou thy seed, 
Nor look to rainfalls for thy harvests' meed. 
Fame and full hands fill not the heart that 
craves 
The inner Glory of a stainless deed. 



[81] 



LIII 



OF FULNESS OF LIFE 
V : 20 



Above the endless Fury, Fever, Fret, 
Above the grief of suns that rose and set, 

The Silent One answers my ceaseless Quest 
When I have learn'd one lesson — to forget. 



[82] 



LIV 



OF FULNESS OF LIFE 
IX : 2-6 



For if thou seekest further, thou shalt err. 
If with the good and great thou dost confer, 
Or ravin with the beasts, 't is all the same : 
He giveth to all one boon — a Sepulchre. 



[83] 



LV 



OF FULNESS OF LIFE 
IX : 7, 8 



So go thy way in garments white to dine, 
And with rare ointments make thy visage shine. 
Forget the Door of which He holds the Key, 
But not the one which holds thy cherish'd wine. 



[84] 



LVI 



OF FULNESS OF LIFE 
IX: 7 



" Drink! since to-morrow life may all be o'er?" 
Nay, drink because to-morrow may bring more. 
The Voice may speak from out the brooding 
cloud, 
A message waft us from the Silent Shore. 



[85] 



LVII 



OF FULNESS OF LIFE 
IX : 9 



And seek to prove Life's solace year by year 
With One whom thy fond heart may find most 
dear. 
Her will may be the wind's will, yet to thee 
The home-bound breeze that brings the Haven 



near. 



[86] 



LVIII 



OF FULNESS OF LIFE 
IV : 6 



She never has the Eternal Puzzle guesst. 

A portion has she borne ; nor sought the Quest. 

Ah ! but the heaven of her patient arms, 
Her little palms' soft hollows full of rest ! 



[87] 



LIX 



OF FULNESS OF LIFE 
IX : 9, 10 



So shalt thou find at length a maid that 's kind, 
A gladsome task well suited to thy mind ; 
And stop thine ears to the mad Fool's crack- 
ling laugh, 
And never listen to the homeless Wind. 



[88] 



THE EPILOGUE 



LX 



Xi: 9 



And Thou, dear Lad, whose bright, enchanted 

gaze 
Makes all thou seest shine in June's soft haze, 

The Summer tarries thine expectant feet, 
The paths thou treadest all are rose-strewn 

ways. 



[91] 



LXI 



XI : 7, 8, 10 



Gladsome to see the Sun, the Light so sweet, 
Remember ! Youth and Dawn have flying feet. 
Quick ! for their dew is mounting to the 
sun. 
Roses of sky and lip are frail as sweet. 



[92] 



LXII 



XII : I 



Take Thou Life's Chalice sparkling to the 

brim 
And, humbly kneeling, give thy thanks to Him. 
Drink ! for thy just accounting draweth near. 
Drink ! then step forth into the Silence dim. 



[93] 



LXIII 



XII : 2 



Or ever — Fate alone may tell how soon — 
The Shape of Darkness make midnight of 

noon, 
The demon Storm Wraith gulp the small, 

brave stars, 
The flashing Cloud Rack blot the timorous 

moon. 



[94] 



LXIV 



XII : 3 



Then, while the bending rose-trees all are shorn, 
The poppies naked in the cool, wet morn, 
The lawless winds shall herd the pitiless 

rains, 
The muttering clouds from the cold North 

return. 



[95] 



LXV 



XII : 3 



Before that blast thy keepers prone shall lie, 
Thy watchmen vainly for their safety fly, 

The wrinkled grinding-women at the corn 
Crouch o'er their task with hoarse and muffled 
cry. 



[96] 



LXVI 



XII : 3, 4 



The vapid peerers at the window-case 
Shall cease — the reticent shutters blown in 
place — 
The silent doors shall shut the loud street 
out, 
The grinders stop — the mill grind low apace. 



[97] 



LXVII 



XII : 4, s 



The merry dancing-girls with terror quail, 
Song sinks to silence and Desire doth fail, 
When pounds the roaring Tempest at thy 
door 
And awful Death rides by upon the gale. 



[98] 



LXVIII 



XII : 4, 5 



Rise now, O Soul — 'tis time for Thee to go. 
The morning lark is calling thee, and lo ! 

E'en as it calls, it soars athwart the storm 
And helpless hangs against the blackening Woe. 



[99] 



LXIX 



XII : 5 



So Man unto his House Eternal goes. 
The portals once for entrance ope — then close. 
Along the sodden street the mourners 

trudge — 
But what is done behind those Doors — who 

knows? 



[ioo] 



LXX 



XII : 6 



Parted the silver Lamp Chain, and its Bowl 
Shatter'd before the Shrine has lost its Soul, 
The broken Pitcher lies beside the Fount, 
The Well Wheel rusts above its empty hole. 



[IOI] 



LXXI 



XII : 7 



See ! Where the roses fall in Autumn's Gust, 
Men to Earth's Treasure Vaults thy Gift en- 
trust. 
Thou earnest here thyself a Rose-from- Hea- 
ven, 
Thou goest back, an ounce of perfum'd Dust. 



[102] 



LXXII 



XII : 7 



Yet — tho* the Dust to brother-Dust be prest, 
What of the Bird that dared the awful Quest ? 

Doth it still flutter on a homeless wing, 
Or in the Hand that sent it forth find rest ? 



[ I0 3] 



THE THEME REITERATED 
VANITY OF VANITIES 



Saith Koheleth : 
All is Vanity, 



[ I0 4] 



THE CONCLUSION 



The End of the Matter ; this heard, all is heard : 
Fear God, and keep His Commandments, 
For this is the Sum of Manhood. 



[105] 



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